About this Recording
8.554516 - Oh Flanders Free: Music of the Flemish Renaissance

The dominant position of Franco-Flemish composers in the musical world of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is testimony not only to the cultural climate of Northern France and the Low Countries in that period but also to the example set by Burgundy. Established as a dukedom under Philip the Bold in 1363, the territory grew through inheritance and dynastic marriages to include the most prosperous region of Europe, Flanders and Brabant, while the marriage in 1477 of the Burgundian heiress Marie, after the death of her father Charles the Bold, to Maximilian of Austria saw Burgundy revert to France and the Low Countries to the Habsburgs, The court of Burgundy in its heyday set an example of magnificence and luxury to the other courts of Europe, attracting artists of the highest distinction, In England Henry VII, victorious in the War of the Roses, was among those rulers who sought to emulate Burgundy, importing artists of all kinds from the Low Countries, a tradition that continued under his successor, while the states of Northern Italy fell under a similar influence.

The present album provides a brief conspectus of Franco-Flemish musical influence in the fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth. It opens with the familiar Introit from the Gregorian Requiem. This is followed by two excerpts from the Songbook of Zeghere van Male, copied for the Bruges merchant of that name in 1542, an anonymous instrumental Preludium and a polyphonic setting of the brief text for the living and the dead, Laus Deo.

Thomas Fabri was a pupil in Paris of the French composer Jean de Noyers, otherwise known as Johannes Tapissier, who had served as a chamber musician to Philip the Bold of Burgundy. In 1412 Fabri was appointed choirmaster at the Cathedral of St Donatian in Bruges, a city then at the height of its cosmopolitan prosperity. His Ach Vlaendere vrie (‘Oh Flanders free’) is one of his two surviving three-voice secular songs.

A native of the northern French town of Busne, from which he takes his name, Antoine Busnois may have been a pupil of Ockeghem in Paris. He was subsequently in the service of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and, after the latter's death in 1477, of the Duke's daughter, Marie of Burgundy, until her death in Bruges five years later. Busnois died in 1492 in the same city, where he was employed as master of choristers at the church of St Sauveur. His four-voice Alleluya is largely harmonic in conception.

There follows an instrumental piece attributed to the Italian Jewish composer Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, a dancing-master whose writing on the art is of considerable importance and enjoyed wide contemporary popularity for its practical advice. The dance Falla con misuras has the alternative title Bassa castiglia. It is a basse-danse, a court dance that, with its succeeding mesures, reached its height of fashion at the Burgundian court.

Contemporaries coupled the name of Johannes Ockeghem with that of his supposed pupil Busnois. Probably a native of Flanders, he served at Notre Dame in Antwerp and was later employed at the court of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, the husband of Agnes of Burgundy, sister of Philip the Good. From the early 1450s he was in the service of the French court under Charles VII and his successor, Louis XI, rewarded him with a number of benefices. The tribute paid to him on a visit to Bruges in 1484 suggests a possible earlier connection with the city and with the composer in the service of the Dukes of Burgundy, Gilles de Binche dit Binchois, to whom he expressed his debt. His chanson Ma maistresse was regarded by his contemporaries as a model of its kind, serving as the basis of a Mass setting by the composer himself and as a familiar source for quotation by others. Ockeghem's chanson D'ung aultre amer (‘To love another’) was also widely known, serving as a basis for a number of compositions by other composers.

The prosperous city of Florence was a major cultural centre in Italy, particularly under the rule and patronage of the Medici family, who became absolute rulers of the city and its surrounding region in 1532. The musicians employed in Florence included distinguished practitioners from Northern Europe, but Mattio Rampollini, represented here by a light-hearted song in praise of Bacchus, god of wine, was a native of the city, master of choristers at the cathedral and in the service of the Medici family.

The greatest composer of his day, Josquin des Prez is thought to have been a native of Picardy. The first certain surviving reference to his career finds him employed as a singer at Milan Cathedral and later in the service of the ruling Sforza family, in association with which he became also a singer in the papal choir. For a time at the French court, he returned to Italy, to Ferrara. There he was finally succeeded by Obrecht, when he left in 1503 to return to Northern France, where he died in 1521. El grillo (‘The Cricket’), a frottola, puns on the name of the singer Carlo Grillo, employed by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, whose musical establishment of forty singers included some score of French or Flemish musicians. It suggests, in its setting, the song of the cricket.

It seems possible that Josquin spent some time in Florence in the years 1487 and 1488, when his name is missing from the list of singers in the papal chapel. Heinrich Isaac, a native of Flanders, spent ten years or more in Florence under Lorenzo the Magnificent, until the latter's death in 1492. In 1497 he became court composer to the Emperor Maximilian I, in Vienna, enjoying a certain freedom of travel that took him back to Florence, where he had married, and to various cities of the Empire. He died in Florence in 1517. Isaac had been briefly in Innsbruck on his first journey south to Italy in 1484 and he spent some time there in 1500 and 1501, when in the service of the imperial court. His well-known song Innsbruck, ich muss dick lassen is unusual in its harmonic chorale-like setting.

The manuscript from which the anonymous Sergonta Bergonta is taken was copied in 1502 by Lodovico Milanese for use either in Ferrara or Mantua. The language of the text is a mixture of Italian, French, Spanish and newly invented words.

Josquin's Mass known as La sol fa re mi is based, it has been suggested, on the solmization of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza's frequent postponement of payment to his musicians, with the words Lascia fare mi (Let me see to it). Whatever the accuracy of this attribution, the music itself is based on the sol-fa notes indicated, A – G – F – D – E, in transposition. The light-hearted Guillaume se va chaufer (Guillaume goes and warms himself) is attributed to Josquin through a misinterpretation of Heinrich Glarean's Dodecachordon of 1547, where it is included among the many musical examples given.

Marguerite of Austria, daughter of Marie of Burgundy and Maximilian I, was three years old when, after the death of her mother, she was betrothed to Charles, the Dauphin of France, the first of her three husbands, none of whom were to live long. Subsequently, as Regent of the Netherlands, she held court at Malines, where she continued to encourage music and the arts. Collections of chansons made for her include the anonymous Cueurs desolez (‘Sorrowful hearts’), suited to a court in mourning.

Two further settings of D'ung aultre amer (‘To love another’) include an instrumental version dated, from its manuscript source, to about 1430, followed by a further version, making use of the well-known melody of L'homme armé and attributed to the fifteenth-century composer Philippe Basiron, presumably a musician of French origin. Here the upper part uses the melody from Ockeghem's chanson, while L'homme armé appears in the tenor.

Henry VIII of England had strong musical interests, as a singer, player and composer himself and his court entertained a large number of musicians from the continent. His Pastime with good company seems to be based on a French chanson of the period, to which it bears some melodic resemblance.

Tielman Susato was either born in Westphalia at Soest, from which his name is derived, or in Antwerp into a family of similar origin. He served as a town musician in the latter city, before turning also to publishing and to dealing in musical instruments. His collection of popular dances was published in 1551. His Passe & Medio or passamezzo is a duple metre dance, followed by a triple metre Galliard.

Born at Verdelot in Seine et Marne in the 1470s, Philippe Verdelot made his career largely in Italy, working in Florence, in Rome and in Venice. He is of importance in the development of the Italian madrigal, of which he was an early master, as witnessed in his Ogn'hor per voi sospiro (‘Every hour I yearn for you’).

Much favoured by Marguerite of Austria, the Flemish composer Pierre de La Rue was probably born in Tournai and served in the Burgundian court musical establishment of Maximilian and then of the latter's eldest son, Philip the Fair, until the latter's death in Spain in 1506. In 1508 he returned to join the court of Marguerite in Malines, before retiring finally to Courtrai, where he died in 1518. His Mijn hert altijt heeft verlanghen (‘My heart is always desirous’) is included in the album of Marguerite of Austria. A four-part work, it is based on an earlier anonymous three-­voice setting which he recomposed.

Keith Anderson



Requiem (Gregorian)


Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine:

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion,

Et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem:

Exaudi orationem meam,

Ad te omnis caro veniet





Give them, Lord, eternal rest

and let everlasting light shine upon them.

I offer you, o Lord in Zion, a song of praise,

for you the promise in Jerusalem will be fulfilled:

hear my prayer,

to you comes all flesh





Anon. (Cambrai, Bl. Municipale, Ms. 125-128,

Songbook of Zegbere van Male, 1542)









Anon. (Idem)

Lans Deo


Laus Deo,

Pax vivos et

Requies pro defunctis. Amen.



Praise be to God


Praise be to God,

peace to the living and

rest for the departed. Amen.




Thomas Fabri (fl.1400-1415)

Ach Vlaendere vrie


Ach Vlaendere vrie hedel aert

Wylen werstu verre bekent.

Zo ziis tu noch, maer te di waert

Draghet niit menich fel serpent.

Du wes omtrent langhe geschent,

werstu van herte versy.

Ach Vlaendre, Vlaendre, wat let dy.



Oh Flanders Free


Oh Flanders free and noble in nature,

You were famous in distant lands,

and you are famous still,

though many an evil snake bears you ill.

You have long been wronged in so many ways,

defend yourself against oppression.

Oh Flanders, what keeps you




Busnoys (c. 1430-1492)




Verbum caro factum est.


Et habitavit in nobis.

Alleluya, Alleluya






The word was made flesh.


And it lived among us.

Alleluia, Alleluia.





Magister Guglielmo

(Ebreo da Pesaro? c. 1425-post 1480)

Falla con misuras








Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410-1497)

Ma maistresse


Ma maistress et ma plus grant amye,

De man desir la martelle ennemye,

Parfaicte en biens s'onques maiz

le fut femme,

Celle seulle de qui court bruit fame

D'estre sans per, ne vous verray je mye?


Helas, de vous bien plaindre me devroie,

S'il ne vous plaist que brefvement voye,

M'amour, par qui d'aultre aymer n'ay puissance.


Car sans vous voir; en quelque part que soye,

Tout ce que voys me desplaist et ennoye,

Ne jusque'alors je n'auray souffisance



My Mistress


My mistress and best friend,

mortal enemy of my desires,

faultless in character if e'er woman was,

you the praised and glorified one,

you alone are beyond compare,

but may I not behold you?


Ah, I should have the right to complain

if you wish to see me but briefly,

my love, because of whom I can love no other


For if I cannot see you, anywhere

nothing pleases me.

No matter where I am, nothing moves me.




Thomas Fabri

Ach Vlaendere vrie







Johannes Ockeghem

D'ung aultre amer


D'ung aultre amer man cuer s'abesseroit.

Il ne fault ja penser que je l'estrange,

Ne que pour rien de ce propos me change,

Car mon honneur en appeseroit.



Je l'aime tant que jamais ne seroit

Possible à moi de consentir l'echange.



To love another


My heart would demean itself if it would love another.

It is unthinkable that I dismiss him from my heart

or that I should ever have a change of heart,

for my honour would be tarnished


I love him so dearly that it will never be possible

to allow a new love into my heart.




Mattio Rampollini (1497-c. 1553)

Bacco, Bacco


Bacco, Bacco e u a e.



Bacchus, Bacchus


Bacchus, Bacchus e u o e.




Josquin des Prez (c. 1440-1521)

El grillo


El grillo è buon cantore

Che tiene longo verso.

Dale bene grillo canta,

El grillo, è buon cantore.

Ma non fa come gli altri uccelli,

Come li han cantato un poco,

Van' de fatto in altro loco,

Sempre el grillo sta pur saldo.

Quando la maggior el caldo

Alhor canta sol per amore.



The Cricket


The cricket is a good singer

who keeps at it.

Sing the notes in tune,

the cricket is a good singer.

But he is not like other birds,

for when they have sung a little,

they move to a different place,

but the cricket always stands firm.

And at the hottest time of day

he only sings for the love of it.




Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517)

Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen


Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen,

ich far dahin mein strassen

in fremde land dahin.

Mein freud ist mir genommen,

die ich nit weis bekommen,

wo ich im elend bin.


Gross leid muss ich yetz tragen,

das ich allein thu klagen

dem liebsten bulen mein.

Ach lieb, nun lass mich armen

im hertzen dein erbarmen,

das ich muss von dannen sein!


Mein trost ob allen weyben,

dein thu ich ewig bleiben

stet treu, der ehren fromm.

nun muss dich Gott bewaren,

in aller tugendt sparen,

biss das ich wider komm!



Innsbruck, I must leave yon


Innsbruck, I must leave you,

I am on my way

to foreign lands.

I am robbed of my joy

and I know not where I shall find it

when I am so wretched.


Now I must mourn

and can only confide

in my dearest love.

Oh my love, have compassion

on wretched me

for I must go away!


My comfort above all women,

I shall always be yours,

ever loyal, ever honourable

Now the Lord must protect you

and preserve your virtue,

until I return!




Anon. (Paris, Bibl. Nat., Ms. Rés Vm7, 676,1502)

Sergonta Bergonta


Sergonta bergonta bergonton boa

Laputa ve sa che vos cagao.

Coma el mondo e ben conducto

De madamas in museres

Che ne pieno il mondo tutto

Duchis conteses e margheses

Usas essignores asignora

La gnao gnao.


Tristame isue tarita

De mi nobis signora filia.

Io son fora de mia posata

Per lo infantos de Castilia

E los contes de Centilia

De mia casa mi sachao.


Monami se vat plet

Bagliare una sanson

Man signor un ben valet

Non ne fa si base son

Se meo fatis un bandon

Nos faron la gnao gnao.

(This text is a mixture of Italian. Spanish, French and coined words)



Little Sergeant, little Shepherd


Little sergeant, little shepherd, guardian sweet,

this little woman knows what you desire;

for the world is ruled

by women of pleasure,

the world is full of them.

Dukes, counts and marquises,

all these gentlemen make use of ladies

for their pleasure.


Sad am I without

my lady daughter

I had to leave my home,

because of the Infantes of Castile.

And the counts of Centilia

chased me from my house.


My friend, if you like

I will dance a little;

my lord, a good servant

does nothing but kiss;

If you gave me pleasure

we will enjoy ourselves together.




Josquin des Prez

Kyrie (Missa 'La sol fa re mi')


Kyrie eleison,

Christe eleison,

Kyrie eleison





Lord, have mercy upon us,

Christ, have mercy upon us,

Lord, have mercy upon us




Josquin des Prez

Guillaume se va chaufer


Guillaume se va chaufer

Auprès de la cheminée

A ung petit charbon

Qui ne fait point de fumée.



Gllillaume goes and warms himself


Guillaume goes and warms himself

at the hearth

before a small fire

which does not smoke.





Anon. (Brnssels, Roy. Libr., Ms. 288,

Album de Marguerite d'Autriche, c. 1430)

Cueurs desolez


Cueurs desolez par touttes nations,

Deul assamblez et lamentations,

Plus ne querez l'amonieuse lyre,

De' Orpheus pour vostre joye'eslyre,

Ains vous plongez en desolations.




Sorrowful Hearts


Sorrowful hearts in all countries

unite in wailing and lamentation.

No longer choose Orpheus's melodious lyre

because you are joyful,

but succumb to lamentation.






(Sevilla, Bibl. Colombina, Ms, 5-1-43, c. 1430)

D'ung aultre amer








Philippe Basiron (15th century)

D'ung aultre amer/Lhome arme






Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Pastime with good company


Pastime with good company,

I love and shall unto I die;

Gruch so will but none deny

So God be pleas'd

so live will I;

For my pastance,

Hunt, sing and dance,

My heart is set,

to my comfort,

All goodly sport:

Who shall me let?


Youth must have some dalliance,

Of good or ill some pastance;

Company me thinks then best

All thoughts and fancies to digest,

For idleness

Is chief mistress

Of vices all:

Then who can say

But mirth and play

Is best of all?


Company with honesty

is virtue, vice, to flee;

Company is good and ill,

But every man hath his free will.

The best ensue

The worst eschew,

My mind shall be

Virtue to use,

Vice to refuse,

Thus shall I use me.





Tielman Susato (c, 1500-1563)

Passe & Medio/Den iersten gallarde







Philippe Verdelot (1470/80-pre 1552)

Ogn'hor per voi sospiro


Ogn'hor per voi sospiro Donna,

poi ch'io non oso a discoprire

Mia fe e 'I mio martire,

Et so che voi scorgete

Ben mille volt' il giorn' il mio dolore

Ma pur cosi volete,

Che consumando vad' a poc' a poco

Tacendo in amoroso fuoco.



Every hour I yearn for yon


Every hour I yearn for you, Lady,

because I dare reveal nothing

of my loyalty and my torment.

And I know that although you discern

my pain a thousand times a day,

it is your wish

that it gradually burn away,

silenced in the fire of love.




Pierre de La Rue (c. 1460-1518)

Mijn hert altijt heeft verlangben


Mijn hert altijt heeft verlanghen

Naer u die alderliefste mijn.

U lifde heeft mij ontfanghen,

U eyghen vrij will ick zijn,

Voor alde weerelt ghemeente.

Soe wie dat hoort oft ziet,

Hebdy mijn herte alleene.

Daerom lief en begheeft mij niet.



My Heart is always desireous


My heart is always desireous

of you, my dearest.

Your love has accepted me,

your own I want to be,

for all the world.

So whoever hears or sees it,

you alone have my heart,

Therefore love me and leave me not.


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